An easy to read English version of Falubert’s Dictionary Of Received Ideas, a satrical look into the biases and cliches of French bourgoise chatter in the 1870s.
Parties you had to be at. (and will be in the future).
Do not come to the 67th Century with your blatant disregard for the laws of Mother Universe and your fat children. We are ten billion minds unified into a single form, working in perfect symbiosis towards a goal you could never comprehend.
We are the world unto ourselves and there is nothing here for you. Each movement you make, no matter how minute, ripples across our numberless senses like stones striking water. You are ruining our perfect calm with the whirring of your ancient machines and your incessant hollering. You stink of a thousand ages of ignorance and we experience your ugly shirts in eleven dimensions.
In the infinite halls of Mother Universe there are more things than numbers to sate your stunted sense of curiosity, this place and this time are unnecessary to you. There is absolutely no reason to ingest narcotic substances in our Crystalline Harmonizer Fields and doing so does not bring you closer to understanding us or our greatest ends. Your attempts to “ride the future worm” when our fleshform breaches the surface of the Great Dust Ocean are also entirely unwelcome.
We bear you, the ghosts of our past, the eternal children, no ill will. We simply need the greatest possible solitude and we have no traits in common with you. And just because civilization as you understand it no longer exists is no excuse to leave beer bottles lying everywhere.
Paradoxical Self-Induced Nonexistence is what the pamphlets in the waiting room call it. PSIN. Back when I first started traveling—when it was all about getting stoned on weird-ass Precambrian shrooms and fucking a Caesar—we just called it ‘doxing out. Every once in a while some dumb sod would hit sine when they meant cosine and end up watching My Lai burn or the Salt Lake Pogrom go down. They’d come back talking about slipping Plan B in their mom’s drinking water. One time a guy I was screwing seemed serious enough about it, so I brought him here. Dropped him off about a decade ago.
Now I’m back the next day.
The clinic’s run by Dr. Antoinette Mobutu . She works two angles. On the one hand, she has a crisis team on-staff to try and talk depressed travelers off the proverbial ledge. But a real fire sparks in her eyes if you get her going on the scientific possibility of PSIN.
“It’s not scientifically verifiable, is the thing,” Mobutu tells me once I get past reception. “Some of my colleagues say it can’t happen, that the time-space continuum simple won’t allow for it. Makes funding tricky. But consider this; we get about a half-dozen new patients a month that are seriously considering blowing a hole in their teenage dad, or dropping a piano on their grandparent’s first kiss. We talk them down, get them on drugs or treatment, and keep a file. We follow up, see how they’re doing. Sometimes we lose track of them. But not once have I spoken to a patient that’s already tried it. And if any of our patients go through with it in the end, how would I know? Would the file remain, or would it vanish into the shifting time stream?”
So either no-one’s tried ‘doxing out (and anyone that’s ever met Denise the human-trilobite hybrid knows people will try anything) or everyone that tries succeeds… and we forget about them. But why would someone do it? I mean, why not just kill yourself the old-fashioned way?
“Well, it’s romantic, for starters. Casting yourself into the void, all that nonsense. We can usually convince those cases to reconsider by pointing out they can’t be sure it will work. Maybe they’ll just get stuck in an endless loop? Some people just hate themselves enough to think it’s the better option for everybody. And honestly… I think some people just want to see what happens. Those are probably the ones we never even see here… the people that just blip off the cosmic radar.”
What can we do about it? Should we do anything about it?
“Well, we take steps to keep people from stomping on important bits of the timeline—the unenviable lot charged with guarding folks like Hitler and G.W. Bush VII from well-intentioned but misguided young travelers, for instance. It’s probably a good idea to try and prevent folks mucking up their own timeline. I mean, what if your mom decides to try PSIN? Wouldn’t you want someone to stop her?”
There are, of course, the pamphlets. You can see them in any safe house or hostel catering to travelers. I question the wisdom of lifting the old 21st century “It Gets Better!” slogan and trying to apply it to our community. Seriously, we can actually check and see whether that’s true. What are you going to tell the schmuck that finds out “Nope, you pretty much stay a schmuck?”
Dr. Mobutu declines to comment. I wrap up by asking about my friend, who I barely remember (not a great lay) but who should be fresh in the mind of whoever was on duty the day before. However, she tells me she can’t divulge patient info. I protest that I just want to know if he got help, then notice something in the far corner. It’s a large brass box, with enough dials and readouts to make Jules Verne need a change of pants.
“I’ve seen one of those before,” I say as I nod at it. “It’s a Relativity Box. Supposedly they can preserve objects against time-stream…” She interrupts me with a strong shove towards the door.
“I’m sure your friend is fine. Now if you’ll excuse…”
“Are you keeping patient records in that?”
“I trust you’ll see yourself out.”
Her office door slams and locks. I take the hint.
On my way out, I brush past a young woman coming in. Early twenties, maybe 25 tops. Clutching her elbows in that “I’m actually physically trying to hold myself together” kind of way. Doesn’t say a word. I catch a look at her face for just an instant, and it says enough.
Damn. I hope I remember that face tomorrow.
Every Traveler speaks of it in hushed tones, and many of them give it a cutesy nickname: “the Big Black” is currently favoured, but in the past it’s been called “the last,” “the swallowing dark,” and “Clarence Clemons playing flat” (and wasn’t that an annoying week). Most Travelers avoid it like the plague, which is understandable because it is very dangerous and, to many, extremely boring.
But there is something here at the end of everything, and that something is nothing. This isn’t just an abyss, this is the abyss, and there is value in letting it stare back into you - if only for a little while. Travelers who get drunk on experience will tell you that they have more perspective than average people who only go through time the one way, but when they say “perspective” they really mean “I have seen a lot of things,” which isn’t the same. But the Big Black forces perspective into you, because it gives you a focal point that you can see. For that reason, you should go. Once, and once only.
So how do you do it and survive? Well, needless to say, those who Travel unassisted need to consider other alternatives, because it is completely cold (what with the universe’s heat-death and all) and there is nothing to breathe. Worse, the moment you arrive the abyss will begin destroying everything that you are, as you are now at the point where your protons will immediately begin to decay. This is quite bad and it is strongly recommended that you do not let it happen. Therefore, Traveling here should only be undertaken via assisted means: something that can for five or ten minutes put up shields or some other sort of maintaining field, maintain an atmosphere and survivable warmth, and let you take it in. Don’t stay longer than ten minutes, because most shield generators will find themselves overloading at that point as they race to generate shield energy faster than that hungry darkness can decay it into pions, and then you will be in significant trouble.
Normally in a Travel article this is the point where someone writes the “things to see and do” bit, but the problem with the end of everything is that there is only nothing to see, and the only thing to do is look at the nothing -
- okay, there is the restaurant, but that actually exists in a bubble dimension and is strictly for poseurs and tourists who want to spend much more money than they should, and the food is mediocre French bistro style grub at the best of times. Worse, there is no sense of immediacy. You are not within the nothing: you are looking at it from an impossibly remote distance, and if you want perspective - really want perspective - then there is no worse thing you can do. That having been said, if you still want the “restaurant experience,” do yourself a favour and instead hit up one of the better supper clubs in Paris circa 1894, then pay them a lot of money to paint all of the windows black while you are there. It gives you much the same feeling, it will be much cheaper than the restaurant, and the food will be much better. Plus, you’ll be able to get really good absinthe, and that will be more fun than the restaurant any day of the week.
Anyway: the black. Engage with it. Sit down cross-legged, if you can, and look at it. We won’t describe it for you, because what’s the point? Each person’s experience is situational, and describing it just makes you sound like some sort of hippie. “No, man, the black, it’s intense. It’s, like, truer than black. Like all your life, you’ve been looking at black, but it was just that black construction paper you used to have in school, and you thought that was black, but then you realize it was all just the only way you could express the idea of black, dude.” That’s what we would sound like if we tried to describe it.
Some people have said that going there is a preview of death. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they were just on good drugs. But who cares? The point isn’t what anybody else saw when they stared into the abyss. The point is what you will see. The only thing we can be certain of is that you won’t know what it is until you go.
The immense and glittering trade empires of the Sahara are often overlooked by Travellers, usually because they’re in the middle of the Sahara, but people heading for the Golden Lions of Mali can get a little help from the Caravan Of The Green Tents. Although mostly populated with regular contemps, the actual Caravan was started by a group of wealthy Emirate and Saudi extempts looking to get back to basics. Visible by their bright green and white tents, they’ll take on any Travellers in exchange for sunblock, spices, compasses, or spare Walkmans. The Caravan makes the 14-day trek in winter, so check the stars before you head out. Expect rough conditions, aggressive camels, and the pale wonder of moon-lit dunes.
Traveling through the Middle Ages? You’ll need the right kind of name to blend in: Here’s a huge list of them sorted by region.
Okay this is a strange one. Owned by a family of Recreationists, B&B is devoted to maintaining its Georgian atmosphere no matter what the Era. This means no cell phones, no computers, and no excessively modern dress. So why go at all? Two reasons, you can obtain 17th Century items in the 21st, making it a valuable pre-Trip stop, and you can still smoke in the backroom if you don’t mind the vague feeling that everyone is playing dress-up.
On the east banks of the middle Nile, Akhetaten was built as the new capitol for heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten (also known as King Amenhotep IV). Between Memphis and Thebes, Akhenaten sought to reform the confused and ornate state religion into a monotheism based on Aten, the sun disc. Which handily happened to talk to Akhenaten. His reforms were short-lived, providing the first opportunity to see gold leggings worn as pants, but his crazy sun language moved Akhetaten to the forefront of ancient Egyptian ego tripping.
Akhetaten is conveniently located on the middle Nile, with regular barges travelling up and down, and is easily reachable from any number of other Egyptian histories, and Richard Burtons both Kama Sutra and Cleopatra have been seen on the ferries. Avoid the cross-sea Styx express, it always has some tourist singing, “Come sail away…” which sounds funny until you’re stuck with it for six days.
Akhetaten is an ideological, though functioning, capitol, the Egyptian version of Prince’s estate with sprawling gardens and proteges littered about. Claiming to be from Atlantis, Lemuria or Lesbos will gull the credible bureaucratic staff, so long as you let them proselytize the wonders of shimmery ponchos and UFO power. Speak Akkadian if you can, claim an obscure origin if you can’t, and remember that to the Akhetatens, their religion is as serious as Radiohead lyrics.
What To Do:
Every day, Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti ride from the North City south on the Royal Road, past the North Suburbs and into the Central City, on golden chariots and leading a vast procession that prays to their reflections in the golden discs of Aten liberally decorating the city. Expect to see leopards, lions, bulls, peacocks, onyx, slaves and trumpeters herded back and forth several times a day, and less enthusiastic each time. The city mostly adopts a “Whaddayagonnado?” attitude toward the parades, tromping through them with the indifferent professionalism of a Motown string section. Still, with more pomp than Vegas saluting Cher, the enforced prancing is nothing if not spectacular.
The best way to see the Akhetaten is to follow toward the end of the procession, then split off to explore “the central city,” a large commercial area that bundles and ships the town’s agricultural output, filled with food carts and beer jugs. Hit up the souvenir booths for
Check in at the Office of Pharaoh Correspondance, drop off your cuneiform tablets from King Yax Pac or Ah Cacaw, and register as a member of the messenger class. As Akhetaten is a pre-monetary society, most basic needs will be provided based on your class sash (white for plebes, red for priests, gold for royalty, blue for visitors) and due to your being foreign and bringing good news (always bring good news — Akhenaten kills messengers like Elvis killed televisions), you’ll be exempted from most of the rigid caste interactions that are the basis of regular interpersonal life in a religious capitol.
For everything else, you’ll have to barter. Polished stones, exotic shells and salt-water taffy are all highly prized, and the anachronists there will take everything from gold to batteries.
It’s worth bribing your way into at least one ritual worship at the main temple in Central City. Past the giant sandstone walls, all decorated with blue and gold murals depicting the pharaohic ascension to Aten’s pure beam, there are magnificent carvings of Nefertiti, Akhenaten, and the hereditary line of the 18th Dynasty. Akhenaten’s great religious reform was simplicity, and his temple is practically Modernist in its bold, geometric lines and expressionistic figures.
With the main road primarily used for endless religious processions and the other streets a wild mishmash of poorly-planned blind alleys and endless sidewalls, walking is the best choice, as per The Bangles. The river is to the east, and you can always find the Royal Road by listening for the trumpets. No bikes.
After Akhenaten, Smekhkare briefly reigned before Tutankhamen (born Tutankhaten) took the thrown and left for Thebes, and Akhetaten was abandoned, then looted. But by Cleopatra’s day, the south end of the village was yet another stop in the commercial life of the Nile, and transit is available to any contemporary location. Likewise, Khmun is right across the river, and from Khmun, Hermopolis, Shmounein and El Ashmunein are easily accessible.
A Safe House has stood on this site since 1538 but the form most appealing to Travelers is from 1840 onward. A truly elegant apartment, 87 Taitbout is owned by a group of like-minded Travelers for the purposes of establishing residency in Paris. It also serves as a warm (and highly decorated) bed for the weary, but due to its role as a private apartment, discretion and blending are a must. The drop box for communicating with the owners and collecting keys is the left most confessional at nearby Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Paris.